Brought Me, Prepared me and Pacified Me

20170729_084012It has been a while since I posted in my blog, even though there has been so much that has run thru my mind that I have been wanting to share with others and to express.

My last blog, “Giant Tiny Dancer” published in June was about the childhood memory I had of my mom and her love for dancing and how she taught me to love and appreciate that part of life as well.

It was weird for me to write that post about my mom, the inspiration was strong but it came out of nowhere and in a moment that I should have been thinking about my dad, not my mom.  However, as I look back at all of the events that have transpired since then, I can see the reason why it happened the way it did.

I was dancing at a Father’s Day celebration last June when I had an extremely vivid vision of a treasured memory that involved my mom. About a month after seeing this vision/memory, I got a call from my siblings to tell me that my mom was sick and I needed to go to her bedside, when I got there I was told she had Neoplastic syndrome, which is the first or most prominent manifestation of a cancer.  My Mami, my Giant Tiny Dancer passed away in September.

20170728_225015The vision I had about my mom and her death shortly afterward, gave me a deeper understanding of the type of connection I have to the people that I love, and more likely, we all have. I believe that vivid vision was a message from something bigger than me to my spirit. Something was telling me….warning me…that my sweet Mami was dying, even though at the moment no one knew it, including my mom.

In retrospect, I understand now that the vision was a message. The message was in a way a warning that my mom would shortly be gone from this world, but mostly that I needed to express my love and admiration to her. The fact that I wrote down what I was feeling with those strong emotions at the time, and that I expressed all of those feelings to my mom, was a blessing. I’m so thankful that I did not hold back.

20170729_084328My mom was a very active woman, full of energy, full of life and wanting to do and try everything! I used to call her sporadically to talk and tell her about my life, my boys or just to hear her voice, and there were many times when I called to speak to her to find out that she was not available because she was out helping people. Throughout her life Mami wasn’t the most healthy woman, but she refused to let her weaknesses or sicknesses slow her down. She stayed strong willed and wouldn’t let anything get in her way.  So even when she was feeling sick or weak, she was serving people and working hard. I always thought that she was invincible. However, my Mom…my Tiny Giant…quickly deteriorated and dimmed… absorbed and consumed by cancer.

Cancer is a mean monster.

My vision brought admiration for my mom and a perspective of her that I had never had before, and which I had never expressed to her, either. If I had ignored the feeling I had with the vision, I would have lost the opportunity to tell her how much I loved her, how much I admired her, and how much she meant to me. I am so glad I didn’t pass that opportunity, or that I didn’t dismiss the prompt.

20170728_223336What came to me the night while I was dancing, I quickly transferred to words and I published it. Shortly after I found myself at her bedside and I read it to her out loud the night I arrived at her beside to say my goodbye. It was just the two of us snuggled up together in her bed, while my siblings were having dinner. It was a private moment between me and my Mami…one that I will always treasure. She listened to me read her the blog that I had written about her.  As I spoke the light came up in her eyes and her beautiful smile appeared as she and I were transported back to our kitchen some 40 years ago. As she listened, the story brought back those special memories. and many others as well. We talked about how much she loved to dance, the way she was always dressed so beautifully, her beautiful clothes and her wonderful hats. Her smile got brighter and brighter. After my siblings finished their dinner they all returned to her bedside and we all sat around her bed. We played songs dedicated to her and our memories, we all took turns to choose which songs to play. There were a lot of tears and there was a lot of love.

20170729_083626What I bring from this experience, the vision and the prompt that I had, is that there is something bigger than me, guiding me and directing me. It is important that I follow those little or big feelings. It’s important that I “listen” to that prompt and to do what comes to me as an “instruction”. I need to ignore my pride, my worries, my limitations and weaknesses. I need to take full advantage of the guidance that I’m receiving.  Listening to that vision and expressing what I felt with it to the world thru my blog and especially that I was able to share it with my Mami, gives me a gratitude and a peace that I can’t describe.

The purpose of that greater thing for me… brought me, prepared me and pacified me.

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The pictures of the flowers in this post, are the ones that I took at my sister’s garden and brought to my mom’s bedside to show her with the hopes to cheer her up.  She would look at the pictures and would say: “Beautiful Mija… you need to make a book”… and then will tell me which other flowers I should go to photograph.. I would go and come back with a new shot.

I love you Mami… and I miss you. ♥♥♥

 

The Egg

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In my early twenties, I had the great opportunity of serving a year and a half welfare mission among the K’ekchi. The K’ekchi are a Mayan tribe who live in north-central Guatemala. I was assigned a companion to go with me. She was a beautiful American woman,the same age as me. She was tall with fair skin, freckles, long wavy red hair and startling green eyes. Because of potential illnesses and political conflicts, there had not been female missionaries in the area in a long time. We were the first ones to return. So with this privilege, we felt a great responsibility, for which we were nervous and excited at the same time. During this journey, I was challenged, but I was also blessed. I was blessed to experience, what I felt, was the purest form of love.

Besides teaching families the essentials of reading and writing, my companion and I spent many hours instructing people on the basics of good hygiene and nutritional habits. We also delivered medicine, and taught scripture. To do that, we were constantly hiking and traveling through the 100 plus miles of mountains and villages along the Polochic River. 20140524_094543_LLS

The mountains in the area were impressively tall, with 50 degree slopes that were covered in rain forest and jungle vegetation like I’d only seen in movies…think 1984’s Romancing the Stone. The villages were spread through those mountains. Some of them were within walking distance from towns and main roads. Others were almost impossible to reach, even by horseback. It was in this gorgeous, but taxing setting, that I learned their beautiful Mayan language. I also learned to live without electricity and all other modern conveniences.

My companion and I were stationed for part of our mission in the beautiful community of Senahu, in Northern Polochic. Senahu is the name of the town, but also the name of a collection of 41 small villages surrounding it. The main plaza is located at the center of the town, with the municipal buildings, the main market and the Catholic church building surrounding the plaza. The town had no electricity except from 6pm to 8pm, when a small generator got turned on. The generator was able to provide energy to the center of the town and light that wasn’t much stronger than a candle, but good enough to help us get ready for the night. We rented a room in one of the best homes in town and we also paid for the cooking and laundry. A little K’ekchi boy, Puk, would fill a bucket of water for us in a tiny room where we “showered”. Taking a shower was not one of my favorite things to do, since I generally had to share this room with a few tarantulas.

One day, my companion and I decided to venture to a part of the mountains where we had never been before. This area seemed uninhabited to us and we had always ignored it, but this morning we decided to hike up hill and look for families anyway.

20140524_165920After hiking for many hours and not finding any homes or families, the temperature and humidity were sapping our strength, and it was getting late. The rules for all missionaries was to never be out of the main city or village after 5 PM. It was too dangerous to be out in the dark. There are too many wild animals and the K’ekchi are very protective of their territory. We didn’t want to break any rules or to get into any trouble, so we decided to head back to town. At that point, we realized that we had been wandering around, without paying attention to where we’d been. We had lost track of the way back. We could see the town from the top of the hill, but we were not able to find the trail that we needed to take to get back to it.

My companion and I were getting worried and frustrated. We were very hot, getting hungry and needed water. We didn’t know what to do. Then, we heard giggles coming from the trees and as we looked harder into the area where the giggles were coming from, we realized that there was a little hut inside a group of trees and the family that lived in that hut had been observing us. They thought it was so funny that we were lost.

The hut was a small, clean, 10’ x 10’ structure made out of sticks and tree branches, dirt floors and a fire-pit in the middle. It was hidden so well that it looked like it was just a big tree. The family included the mom and dad , two daughters and a son. The children who were about 11, 12 and 13 years old, seemed to be much smaller, more like 7-8 years-old. The parents were not that much taller. They all all had big black eyes, the biggest smiles and cute giggles. They all were happy and seemed to have no worries at all.

They welcomed us with so much love and attention. The two little girls, after inspecting us with their eyes, playing with our hair, holding our hands, and touching our clothes and all the ornaments we were wearing, ran out of the hut. They had been instructed by the mom to go pick the tips of some tender plants that were growing right outside of the hut. The mom placed the trimmings inside a pot of water and placed it on top of the fire. She also started to make corn tortillas. A few minutes later they handed us a bowl that contained broth and the tortillas for us to eat. Of course, we were grateful for the meal, but as welfare missionaries, we were analyzing the nutritional value of that meal and the impact of that type of diet on their health. After visiting with the family, they showed us the trail that would lead us back to the village and we said goodbye. The trail entrance at that point seemed so obvious. It was hard to believe that we couldn’t find it earlier. Like it had been hidden purposely, so that we could meet that family.

20140525_184058As a way to thank the family and to help them improve their nourishment, my companion and I decided to buy a couple of chicks and some chicken feed. We hiked a few days later to deliver our gift. It was very touching to see how happy, excited and grateful they were to have something that they’d never had before. I was humbled, realizing that there are people who had never eaten an egg. Up to this point in my life I had thought nothing of waking up every morning in my own comfy bed, with a soft mattress, warm blankets, with a bedroom to myself that even included my own bathroom. I thought that a warm, steamy and delicious breakfast of eggs, beans, bread, cheese, coffee, cream, sugar, fruit was the norm and my right. I had always taken those simple blessings for granted. Many times, I had complained because something was not cooked exactly the way I liked it. How different it was for this family. They had little, and yet they were absolutely happy.

We kept on visiting and checking on them through the following months. As time went by, we got other assignments, other villages to visit and we didn’t see the family for a while. With time, they went out of our mind and I’d forgotten all about the gift of the baby chicks…until one morning.

As we were leaving our home to go do our service projects for that day, we noticed that the family was waiting for us outside. The moment they saw us coming out of our house, their smiles became so big, their big black eyes sparkling with excitement, joy and happiness. One of the little girls had a piece of cloth in her hands. It seemed like she was guarding a treasure. The little girl came towards me and placed the little packet in my hands. I carefully unfolded the corners of the cloth…an egg!

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As they explained to us, one of the chickens had lain her first egg early that morning, and they wanted us to have it. They had walked since dawn, waited outside our home to show us their treasure and more special … to give it to us!!!

It was just an egg, but it was the first egg they’d ever “owned.” Instead of eating it themselves, they gave it to us. They had big smiles on their faces. They had a light and a glow that showed pride in their precious offering. They were giving away something so precious, and all I saw was gratitude radiating from this beautiful family towards us.

They eagerly watched for our reaction. I can’t tell you what my companion was feeling or thinking. I can only tell you what I felt.

I felt a love so powerful radiating towards me, that no words can describe it. There was a sense of humility, a deep love and so much gratitude. With the simple gift of an egg, I experienced a moment in my life that awakened me. That wonderful family gave me much more than an egg. They gave me a deep sense of what the truly valuable gifts are in this world..the feeling of being valued, cared for and loved.

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Photos by Sandi Gamblin

Edited by Randall Gamblin (randallgamblin@gmail.com)

 

The Moment

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“Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, and today is a gift…that’s why they call it:  Present” ―  Master Oogway

At one point in my life it helped me to understand what living in the moment means and to enjoy my present instead of thinking of the past or the future.  It helped me to be in the “Now”.

I had heard that quote before, but on this particular day it actually spoke to me and made sense.

My boys were excited to go see the movie Kung Fu Panda which had premiered that week.   I was enjoying my boys company and their beautiful spirits as much as I could.  The moment the lights went down and the movie started, my boys had their attention on the screen.  Me, my body was there, but my mind was not. My second marriage was failing and all I was doing was thinking about possible solutions, causes, consequences and all the thoughts that come with marriage problems and potential divorce.

My boys were loving the movie.  Sometimes their giggles would bring me back to the theater, but mostly it would wander back to my problems.  Then the scene came when Master Oogway (Chinese for Tortoise) is talking to Po, the Panda, and he says:  “Yesterday is history,tomorrow’s a mystery, and today is a gift…that’s why they call it:  Present”.

2015-11-20 12.48.18My mind, which had been completely absent to the moment, was captured by what Master Oogway said,, and came back to listen and analyze that specific saying.  I call it my Aha Moment, because something clicked inside of me, something magical that changed me.   If I could describe the change that happened, I would say that there was an inner light that started as a flicker and became brighter and brighter as the quote played over and over inside my head.

The whole meaning of it became clear to me.  I was not taking full advantage of the present by worrying so much about things that had already happened, had not happened or may never happen.  Things that I had no control over were the owners of my “Now”.

I looked away from the screen and into my boys beautiful faces.  Their smiles were so big and their eyes were shining so bright, their minds completely submerged in the movie, the plot and the characters.  Not a worry in their world…and I wanted to be and feel like them.  Their secret? Like Master Oogway said, they were living in the present moment. They were taking advantage of their gift…the Now.

I did my best to free my mind of any other thoughts and to stop thinking, to be there, at the movie theater, body and soul, and love that moment with my boys, to appreciate my present, my gift.

The rest of that day was amazing. I felt free. I felt joy. 2015-11-20 12.35.39I felt peace and love that was so fulfilling because it came from inside me and from the realization of the gift I had.  Since that day, I do my best to stay in the moment.  It is not easy and sometimes it seems impossible.

Over the last few years, I have been challenged in many aspects of my life.  I have been laid off from work a few times. My health turned into a slow roller coaster when my thyroid decided to take on a life of its own and play tricks on me.  Losing my good health created a domino effect on my work, my finances, my home, my social and family life.  I can honestly say that I have so many reasons to worry, to despair, to go crazy.

My natural tendency when faced with challenges, is to go into my past and look for all the reasons why bad things are happening to me.  If I allow myself to do that, then I start thinking about what I could have done differently and I fill myself with regrets and self pity.  I also tend to think about all the consequences and possible outcomes to the future, bringing anxiety, worries and uncertainty to my life, feelings that are unnecessary and a complete waste of my present.  Instead I do my best to stay in the present moment and use that gift to be pro-active and work towards the solutions.

Since I started practicing living in the moment, I have noticed that my life has become rich with peace, calm and acceptance.  I appreciate the little things.  I see beauty in nature and in people in a way that I didn’t see before.  Simple things make me happy.  I feel a deeper love and an absolute gratitude.  I do my best to LIVE every moment fully and completely.  Especially when I am with my boys. Those moments become treasures to my soul.  Those are the little moments that really matter to me and the memories that those moments create are the true inheritance I leave behind.

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Photos by Sandi Gamblin

Edited by Randall Gamblin (randallgamblin@gmail.com)

Gratitude.

 Gratitude:

The quality of being thankful; readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness. (Wikipedia)

Looking bac2015-08-08 12.16.02k on my life experiences to pinpoint the exact moment when having gratitude as my first thought of the day has been difficult.  My siblings and I were taught politeness and culture by expressing gratitude to everyone.  Many times,  if I wasn’t showing my gratitude or saying “Thank You’, I received a strong pinch from my mother.  There is a big difference between learning to express gratitude because you have to, and expressing gratitude because you feel it.

At one particular point in my life, I learned the true meaning of gratitude through a personal and powerful experience of my own. It happened when I was 17 years old, the day my beautiful Dad died.

My father was my best friend.  He taught me to box, the basics of fixing a car, to dance, and to be calm in the midst of conflict.  I loved him so much.  He became sick and passed away when he was 52.  I remember walking into the hospital with my best friend, her sister and my two younger siblings.  Before we got to his room, the nurse came out and without any warning, love, or concern, she announced, “Oh, your father just died.”  I remember running to him and hugging his dead body so, so tight, crying and hurting so much!

I turned around and saw my little brother and  sister with pain and devastation on their faces that was equal to mine.  I realized that my dad’s body was dead, but his spirit and memories would continue forever.  At that exact moment an overwhelming feeling of gratitude washed over me.  I felt so grateful for the few years that I had him as my dad.  I felt like a miracle happened to me when an extremely painful moment was transformed into a loving, peaceful one.  I turned to my siblings and shared my feelings with them.  I asked them to kneel, we held hands and said a loving prayer of thanks for the blessing that he had been to us.  Tears of loss were exchanged for tears of love and gratitude. Gratitude filled us and helped get us through those sad days.  I could actually feel the love of my dad surrounding us.   His big smile came to my mind and took over my heart and I felt his comfort.

The memory of this moment is the one that I use as a powerful tool to transform my life.  I use it to turn bad and difficult moments into positive experiences.  I do my best to make gratitude my first thought of everyday.  That alone, helps me to have a great day, regardless of any  situation or any problem.

Sometimes, I succeed.  Other days, I forget and it doesn’t come to me until later in the morning, but my gratitude is always with me.  It’s not always easy to make it my first thought of the day.

It is not easy to train ourselves to wake up giving thanks or having thoughts of gratitude.  It has taken me time, patience and practice to get to the point where I am now.  More likely, our first thoughts are along the lines of, “I need more sleep!”, or “I don’t want to get up to do all the things I have to do today!”  Sometimes, there is excitement about a new day, other times fear of what the day may bring, or complete indifference to the upcoming day, with no more interest in it than to get through it..mechanically…because it is something to do..like a job.  Regardless of the expectations of the day, if gratitude is at the start of it, life becomes more meaningful and rich in a spiritual way.

If gratitude is not your first thought, it could always be the second, or the third, or the fourth.  What is important is to have that thought at some point in the morning routine.  As times goes by, it becomes easier to remember and eventually becomes a habit.  Then it becomes part of the soul.  One day, I hope to realize that waking up with gratitude is as natural as the sunrise…..every morning.

I don’t look for a big list of amazing things happening, to be able to give thanks. The little things are the ones that matter the most.  Each morning I feel gratitude for waking up; for seeing a new sunrise, or maybe a rainy day; for calling a place my home;  for my family, pets, friends.  I’m simply grateful for being alive!

Feel the gratitude and see the transformation.

If time is taken every morning to feel grateful… for pretty much anything in life, the day will be brighter, smiles will be bigger, and by the end of the day, there will be even more reason to close the day with a feeling of complete gratitude for just being.

Now, let’s close our eyes, breathe deep and exhale with a smile…  Time to start the gratitude journey!2015-07-19 15.26.32

  • Photos by Sandi Gamblin
  • Editing by Randall Gamblin (randallgamblin@gmail.com)